Ban pimping websites, MSPs say
A cross-party group of MSPs has called for a ban on so-called pimping websites.
These sites, which are used to advertise sex workers online, are currently legal in Scotland.
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, who chairs the Scottish Parliament’s CPG on commercial sexual exploitation, said such websites allow men to buy sexual services completely anonymously.
Experts also warn they are often used by traffickers to advertise victims, often without their knowledge.
Grant said: “Websites advertising women for prostitution in Scotland are getting rich from facilitating sex trafficking – and it is an absolute scandal that they are able to do this with impunity.
“Scotland’s laws against sexual exploitation are not fit for the twenty-first century. The Scottish Government urgently needs to drag them into the modern age by outlawing online pimping and cracking down on the website companies that are enabling and profiting from sexual exploitation and abuse.”
The call comes following a brief inquiry into the use of pimping websites.
It found over 500 adverts were posted on one of Scotland’s leading platforms in a single day.
One survivor, Megan King*, told the inquiry: “The websites that directly profit off every booking, off every girl who advertises globally, have no repercussions for their exploitation. This feels like an extreme injustice to our trauma.”
The Scottish Government announced last month it planned to develop a new approach to tackling sex work by challenging the demand side.
A working group has been established to design a set of principles to help tackle men’s demand for prostitution.
The CPG argues banning websites should be part of this response.
Bronagh Andrew, of trafficking victim support service TARA, said: “Week after week we see and hear of the devasting impact this has on women who are treated as a commodity to generate profit... The businesses behind these websites profit, the ruthless criminals and abusers profit, but the women being bought and sold do not. The men paying for sexual services are complicit in this clear abuse of women.”